An infrequently updated dumping ground for one culture junkie's thoughts on film and whatever else

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Buddy Love vs. the Wheelchair Assassins

From the people who brought you the short-sighted, missed-the-point protests of Tropic Thunder comes the latest round of misplaced P.C. aggression against Hollywood. Yep, they're protesting the Academy's decision to bestow the humanitarian Oscar on showbiz legend and emulsion-licking auteur Jerry Lewis.

Now, it's one thing to take issue with Jerry's fundraising methods. If they think the MDA telethons propogate negative stereotypes about the disabled, then it's valid to make that point. But is it anything but mean-spirited to try depriving an 82-year-old legend of his last chance at honorary recognition? And there's also the issue of looking a gift-horse in the mouth: Jerry Lewis has done more to raise money and awareness for your cause than, oh, everyone else in the history of that cause combined, and you're gonna give him a big fuck-you just like that?

Then there's this line, which I have no idea what they're even referring to: "Under the guise of 'schtick' and zany, slapstick humor, Lewis’ early films mocked people with developmental disabilities." Wait, really? I haven't seen all of Jerry's early movies but I'm having trouble imagining a scenario in which any of them would even include disabled characters, let alone make fun of them. Are they talking about the fact that Jerry's characters were usually bumbling, stupid weirdos? Is wacky clumsiness a developmental disability now?? That's insane!

Seriously, all this kind of thing accomplishes is give conservatives fodder for deriding us as a bunch of P.C. whiners.

Actually a good rejoinder to these charges would be the climactic scene of Jerry's own The Nutty Professor, but I can't find it on youtube. The movie's be-yourself message, spoken by Jerry after his hepcat Buddy Love persona has worn off and he's been exposed as ugly nerdy scientist Julian Kelp, jibes pretty damn well with what the disability protesters want to make clear: "You might as well like yourself; just think about all the time you're going to have to spend with you."

Since I can't find that scene, enjoy this clip of Buddy Love performing "That Old Black Magic" at the eternal Purple Pit. Incidentally, a note to members of my generation who might be put off by memories of the icky Eddie Murphy remake: Jerry's original The Nutty Professor is one of the most perfect films ever made, and essential viewing for anyone with even a cursory interest in American comedy and/or American cinema. Oh, and this interview with Jerry from Entertainment Weekly is an enjoyable read. It confirms that Jerry is upset that the award is for his humanitarian work rather than his film artistry.

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